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Research on the mentally incompetent
  1. M Cuénod1,
  2. J Gasser2
  1. 1Centre for Psychiatric Neurosciences, Lausanne University, Switzerland
  2. 2Department of Adult Psychiatry and Institut Romand d'Histoire de la Médecine, Lausanne University, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor M Cuénod, Center for Psychiatric Neurosciences, Department of Adult Psychiatry, Lausanne University, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland;


The specific problems of consent for the mentally incompetent are reviewed. Scientific research is essential to test the validity of present treatments and to develop new ones. The respective roles of the physician and the researcher have to be clearly defined. The vulnerability of psychiatric patients has to be taken into consideration in such a way that some research can be conducted. It is emphasised that the ethical restrictions for research, although highly justified and necessary, are in part responsible for the relatively slow progress in the application of modern neurosciences to psychiatric diseases.

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